Experience Huntly

Foundation Scotland Invests £100k To Help Tackle Inequalities In Huntly

Foundation Scotland Invests £100k To Help Tackle Inequalities In Huntly

By Claire Montgomery on 09/01/2024

Gordon Rural Action and Networks of Wellbeing in Huntly have been awarded a total of £100,00 from a new fund being piloted by Foundation Scotland called the ‘Tackling Inequalities’ fund.  Working in partnership, the two organisations will use the funding to gain a deeper understanding of their current service provision and the needs of the community, and examine the drivers of inequality in their community of Huntly.

The aim of the Tackling Inequalities fund is to provide organisations with the financial support to develop, test, implement or scale up activity that contributes to tackling and reducing inequalities either in their local areas or through their project more widely. 

Funding will help groups go beyond dealing with the symptoms of inequality and contribute to reducing it at its root causes.  Giving agency to communities themselves to work in this ‘upstream’ way can help build an evidence base for what works and begin to challenge political and economic systems. 

This is the first ‘thematic’ fund that Foundation Scotland has delivered, and seven projects will receive a funding total of around £500,000. 

Gordon Rural Action has been operating in Huntly for 45 years, providing free, confidential advice and support, while developing initiatives that tackle poverty, inequality, and responding to the needs of the local community. Their Huntly Advice Hub gives people the support and information needed to make informed decisions about benefits, financial situations and rights, and can signpost on for issues such as debt or legal matters. Their School Uniform Exchange and Baby Bank are both completely free services open to everyone while their Befriending Services match individual needs and preferences while dovetailing into existing services. 

Networks of Wellbeing (NoW) is a person-centred charity that has been working in mental health and wellbeing for 32 years.  They provide a range of supports, services and activities for people aged 11 and over, and who live and work within the NHS Grampian area. 

A particular service they provide is support for people who are experiencing moments of crisis - including those who are feeling suicidal, those who are experiencing stress, anxiety and panic attacks, or those experiencing social isolation and loneliness - with more and more young people looking for help and support. NoW's services are free at the point of delivery which means that they are inclusive and open to all.This is especially important given that the impact of the current cost of living crisis means that there are an increasing number of people in the area who are living on or below the poverty line. 

Working in Partnership

Gordon Rural Action and NoW have a history of partnership working and often collaborate on mutually beneficial projects for the wider community.  They will work together to ensure that the £100,000 funding is put to best use for strengthening the community, researching more fully how they might jointly tackle the inequalities and drivers of poverty and mental health, engaging with the community to gather shared experiences. 

By working together, they hope to gain understanding of how their two services overlap and complement each other, and build a joint multi-year strategy that encompasses both shared and individual learnings to enable them to create a positive impact in the area.  They will use their experiences and learnings to influence local, regional and national policy in their specialist areas in the hope of making lasting positive changes.

Calum Hislop, Upstream Advice Coordinator from Gordon Rural Action said: “I was delighted to be offered a role in this initiative which has provided the rare opportunity to really examine the services being put forward by Gordon Rural Action (GRA). Whilst being aware of the excellent work done by the GRA, previous experience in the public and third sector left me very much aware that even the most effective of projects were often reacting to crisis, and therefore not able to examine the root causes and possible solutions. This funding has facilitated the process of moving towards an “upstream” approach to services, and supported the creation of new local networks and the improvement/restoration of existing ones, that perhaps suffered during the pandemic.” 

Fiona Alderson, Service Manager at Networks of Wellbeing said: 

“This funding enables NoW to look both at the needs and inequalities that exist in more widely rural areas, and to work with people in those areas to identify the supports best suited to help alleviate these issues. We are delighted to assign Fi Thomson to this role.  Fi's wealth of knowledge about the area and the needs of the people who access our services is key to taking forward the upstream approach.  Fi will work towards developing the services offered by Networks of Wellbeing, and additionally will work alongside GRA to develop services to help tackle the inequalities that exist in this area.” 

Helen Wray, Head of Philanthropy at Foundation Scotland said: “Alongside responding to immediate and vital demands, Foundation Scotland is increasingly adopting a developmental approach, allocating funding to groups working differently to create a fairer and more just Scotland. We wanted to develop a new fund to test local, community-led approaches to preventative, or ‘upstream’ solutions that tackle the underlying causes of inequality. We’ll be learning from the funded projects about their own approaches and what works well, which will help inform our own thinking in the future.”  

The three-year funding programme is being delivered in partnership with the Wellbeing Economy Alliance Scotland, an organisation that envisions an economic system that has wellbeing at its heart, and ensures everyone can experience fairness and connection, and participate in the decisions that affect them.

Lisa Hough-Stewart, Wellbeing Economy Alliance Scotland said: 

“The inequalities driven and maintained by our current economic system harm people’s wellbeing and prevent them from thriving. We urgently need an economic system explicitly designed to do the opposite, to tackle inequalities and allow everyone to thrive.The organisations funded by the new Tackling Inequalities Fund are fantastic charities at the frontline of tackling the symptoms of inequality. They already have knowledge and ideas about how to tackle its causes, and we are excited to learn from and amplify their work over the next three years.”

All seven projects will participate in a learning journey together to provide local, first-hand evidence on what helps and what hinders a society based on greater equality. 

The seven projects are: Gordon Rural Action, Kingdom Off Road Motorcycle Club, Kirkconnel and Kelloholm Development Trust, Networks of Wellbeing, Positive Changes Scotland, Showcase the Street and an award has also been made to the Wellbeing Economy Alliance Scotland. 



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